How to Use Structured Interviews for Next-Level Recruitment Success

Posted by Ashley Jones
structured interviews

Are you ready to experience an interview method that will help your team consistently deliver better hires? Lighthouse Research & Advisory recently released a new study1 on the effectiveness of structured interviews in the hiring process.

According to the study, “two in three employers say that structured interviews lead to better hiring decisions overall.” Furthermore, “86% of talent leaders believe that structured interviews help reduce bias.”1

If that’s not enough to intrigue you, employers that use structured interviews also experience increased productivity, reduced turnover, and predictable, consistent, and high-quality results overall. Employers benefit from them, and many candidates actually prefer them!

In the cleared community, hiring authority – or the ability to impact the process – may not reside with you based on where you sit in the process. But we still encourage you to read on and learn about structured interviews so you can share the merits with those who can impact the process, particularly if your team is struggling with making quality hires.

How it Works

Structured interviews use “candidate questions that don’t vary across interviews, questions that are job-related in nature, and detailed rating scales for scoring responses.” Together these elements “create a combination that leads to fast, fair, and functional screening activities.”1

There are three components to structured interviews that we’ll explore:

  1. Training interviewers
  2. Preparing interview questions
  3. Gathering post-interview feedback1

1. Training Interviewers

Not all interviewers perform equally, especially if they haven’t been provided adequate training. Lighthouse Research & Advisory’s study found, “three in 10 employers offer no interview training, assuming their hiring managers will figure it out on their own.”

However, employers need to remember that hiring managers are not typically experts in talent acquisition. In the cleared community, an engineer or analyst may be comfortable asking technical questions, but they don’t necessarily have interviewing best practices mastered to help them conduct an effective interview that will lead to the best hiring decision.

In fact, “just one in four talent leaders say that their hiring managers consistently pick high-quality candidates, indicating there is room for improvement.”1

Even employers that do offer training to help their interviewers can likely improve their processes, as “61% of employers offer a passive course or slide deck with training material, hoping their hiring managers will be able to apply everything they read or hear.”1

To ensure your hiring managers are well trained and acquire the necessary interviewing skills, consider having them shadow your best interviewers in addition to providing training content like slides or videos. You can also provide them with personal feedback by having a recruiter watch them in action. Or record an interview they conduct so they can get constructive feedback to improve afterwards.

As you know, training takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. If there’s any hesitation in investing in training, just remember, “if employers aren’t using interviewer training, their hiring managers are 41% more likely to consistently make poor hiring decisions.”1 The numbers speak for themselves and make a convincing argument in favor of training.

2. Preparing Interview Questions

With interviewer training checked off your list, the next aspect of structured interviews to dive into involves:

  1. Asking the same questions of every candidate
  2. Asking specific, job-related questions
  3. Using a rating scale to score answers in a methodical way1

Admittedly, Lighthouse Research & Advisory found the biggest barrier to adopting structured interviews is setting up the rating scale to score answers. However, if you can devote the necessary time upfront to developing role-specific questions and rating scales for the position in question, you’ll save time on the back-end as you efficiently interview multiple candidates throughout the current hiring process, and for future requisitions involving the same role.

When it comes to asking the same questions of each candidate, there are some myths to dispel. “About half of employers think that candidates won’t like structured interviews because of their more formal style, yet 70% of candidates say that they want interviewers to ask every candidate the same set of questions.”Candidates prefer this because it promotes fairness and also keeps the conversation focused on actual job responsibilities.1

Even though structured interviews use a list of questions, they aren’t 100% scripted. While they’re streamlined and focused on job-related questions, interviewers can still ask natural follow-up questions to delve deeper.

3. Gathering Post-Interview Feedback

After interviews conclude, it’s time to submit feedback to make a determination. But don’t go running to the water cooler to discuss your impressions. Lighthouse Research & Advisory warns, “there’s a common mistake nearly half of employers make that can derail all of the good work thus far: group feedback sessions.”

“Research indicates that when a team or panel of interviewers compares notes, this increases the chances of groupthink and bias dramatically.” In fact, “more than 40% of employers are using a method to gather candidate feedback post-interview that drives up the chances of bias.”1

So to reduce the chances of bias, gather feedback separately and as soon as possible. This reduces the likelihood of strong opinions skewing the feedback of others. Also, if given time to forget, we become more likely to introduce bias. So ask for feedback immediately after an interview, or by the end of the day at latest.

“A surprising finding in the research was that employers using structured interviews saw faster turnaround times for candidate feedback scores post-interview. This speed is essential in a world where two of the top three reasons for candidate ghosting are closely tied to time to hire.”1

Embracing Structured Interviews

The evidence is clear – structured interviews are not just a trend but an effective tool in talent acquisition. The benefits extend far beyond the interview room, impacting productivity, the candidate experience and the overall quality of hires.

As you navigate the complexities of the cleared hiring landscape, consider this: investing in training for your interviewers, crafting job-related questions, and gathering unbiased, timely feedback can pave the way for a streamlined and effective hiring process.

The shift toward structured interviews represents a commitment to fairness, efficiency, and ultimately, success in building a robust and talented team. So, whether you’re a seasoned HR professional, a hiring manager, or part of a collaborative hiring process, integrating structured interviews could be the key to unlocking a future where hiring decisions are not only better, but also resonate positively throughout your organization. Embrace the change, refine your approach, and watch as structured interviews become a cornerstone in your pursuit of top-tier security-cleared talent.

1 Fast, Fair, and Functional: A New Look at Structured Interviews


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 11, 2023 6:16 pm

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